#OSHtober: I can see clearly now

Remember when you were learning to drive and you had to identify number plates on other cars? When was the last time you tried to do it?

If you’re a driver, it is vital to have regular eye tests.  As we get older, eyesight can deteriorate.  Aside from being a hazard to both yourself and other road users, you can also be prosecuted if you drive without meeting the minimum standards of vision for driving.

The DVLA has launched a national eyesight awareness campaign aimed at helping ensure drivers meet the minimum eyesight requirements for driving. Legally, this means being able to identify a number plate from 20 metres and having an adequate field of vision. The latter is something that your optician can test you for, but identifying number plates is a very easy test you can do yourself.

How far is 20 metres?

Judging how far away 20 metres is can be a bit tricky. For a start, some of us don’t deal in metres so 66 feet or 21.8 yards are probably more meaningful measurements to you.

Of course juCar frontdging that distance is the main problem, so it’s helpful to have a few reference points when testing your vision. 20 metres roughly equates to five cars parked next to each other or eight parking bays. Alternatively, it is around 26 steps for a man and around 33 for a woman.

If you can only read number plates from this distance with the help of contact lenses or glasses, then you should always wear these when driving.  If you’re going for a DVLA test then you must tell them about any problems that affect both your eyes.

The full minimum eyesight standards for driving can be found HERE

All of RoSPA’s on road driver training incorporates eyesight tests. So whether it’s chauffeur training, banksman training, an experienced driver assessment or one of our other driver training options, you can be guaranteed that your eyesight will be tested!


Throughout #OSHtober we will be providing you with tips and advice on how to ensure you drive safely for work. You can also keep up to date with all the latest safety news by signing up to SafetyMatters, our free monthly e-newsletter.

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  1. Following on from the RoSPA “I can see clearly” blog raising the awareness of regular eye tests when driving we thought we needed to cascade this important issue to all our NIS employees, contractors and visitors. It is not an easy task though to encourage everyone to have an eye test and we needed to think of a way to make this easy. OK our employees have eye tests for regular DSE use and through our health screening but are these tests correct for the vision required when driving.

    What we needed was something that is permanent and could easily be used by all allowing them to immediately recognise if further eye tests and screening is required. We sent out a communication to the company that basically said “We have an addition to our facility, a small yellow painted box. It is there to help with your safety and that of others. There will be a prize for anyone who can inform me of where this is and how it can help you to be safe. Please let me know your suggestions”.

    This was of great interest and was fun and in some cases frustrating as the riddle was solved. The prize for correct answers was a chocolate club bar, with the employees successfully getting the right answer joining our “driving eye test club”. The yellow box painted on the NIS car park identified the distance required to do the eye test and was positioned on the main access and egress route to the car parks. We see it being regularly used and it is a good and simple way to raise awareness to this issue. Hopefully others can adopt similar approaches.

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